Church as Business

Cover Photograph by
Richard Cummins/SuperStock

This Business Week cover story is aptly titled, Earthly Empires: How evangelical churches are borrowing from the business playbook. Mother Jones’ version is titled Jesus Christ’s Superflock: Megachurches have found the secret to attracting the unchurched?and it’s not just the Sunday service.

[update: and these online extras]

Online Extra: “A One-Stop Christian Destination”
Kirbyjon Caldwell, a Wharton MBA turned pastor, discusses how his vision to build a prayer center turned into something much bigger

Q: As a Wharton MBA, how do you view the use of business principles to run megachurches?
A: It is not uncommon for small and medium-sized churches to view larger churches as a business. I think that is unfortunate. But the other side of the coin is that when you take up money and spend money, if you don’t have sound business principles in place, you go to jail.

It is unfortunate that we’ve created this canyon between what is spiritual and what is practical. The Lord builds a bridge between [them]. And over half the parables told by Jesus deal with money. So I don’t make any apologies for the fact that we try to run the church as efficiently as we can.

Online Extra: Supersizing Salvation
No cross, no hymnals, and a strong appeal to the “unchurched” — that approach has helped Bill Hybels build one of the country’s megacongregations

Online Extra: Meet the Prosperity Preacher
God wants you to be successful in business, says Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church. It’s a message that has made him the leading TV evangelist

Online Extra: Evangelism Gone Entrepreneurial
Rick Warren believes evangelism means devotion to both social issues and God. The Internet is one tool he uses to spread the word

Q: Why are evangelical churches growing so much faster than Protestant mainline churches?
A: My church has been growing because it has changed lives. People don’t go to a church because of its size. You go because there is something that is changing your life. Evangelical churches are giving meaning to people. They are helping people simplify their lives.

Online Extra: Church of the Mighty Dollar
How do Rolls-Royces fit into God’s plan? The founder of the World Changers Church International explains all

Online Extra: Getting Your Religious Terms Right
Can’t tell the difference between the evangelicals and the seekers? Confused by the prosperity gospel? Here’s a glossary to help you

Online Extra: The Fashion of the Christ
Corporations like Sony and Time Warner are grabbing pieces of the religious music, movie, and book markets. The losers: Small specialty stores

Online Extra: Willow Creek: Spreading The Gospel Of Expansion Slide Show

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  1. Bumble says:

    Thanks for the set of links. In one of the articles, it said…

    “Many of today’s evangelicals hope to expand their clout even further. They’re also gaining by taking their views into Corporate America. Exhibit A: the recent clash at software giant Microsoft.”

    Does anyone know what was the “recent clash at Microsoft” about? TIA.

  2. djchuang says:

    The clash is between pastor Ken Hutcherson and Microsoft, regarding a proposed gay rights bill in the (Washington) state legislature; see

  3. This is a very important discussion. I started something along similar, but narrower, lines Saturday and have linked to this in Sunday’s post on the subject.